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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Is "what" a conjunction in the "I did exactly what you sad"

    Is the word "what" a conjunction in the phrase: "I did exactly what you said" or is it an adverb? I woud be grateful for any suggestion. Thank you!

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Is "what" a conjunction in the "I did exactly what you sad"

    Well, "exactly what you said" is a noun phrase there.

    (Click "Thank" if you find this post useful.)

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Is "what" a conjunction in the "I did exactly what you sad"

    "I did exactly what you said" is a sentence, not a phrase.

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    #4

    Re: Is "what" a conjunction in the "I did exactly what you sad"

    Quote Originally Posted by Zoli View Post
    Is the word "what" a conjunction ...?
    NOT A TEACHER

    Hello, Zoli:

    According to my books, the answer is "No."

    Most secondary school-level grammar books call it an indefinite relative pronoun.

    1. It is a pronoun
    2. It refers to another word called an antecedent.
    3. But there is no antecedent that we can see, so the word "indefinite" is used.

    In other words, those books tell us that "what" in your kind of sentence = "that which."

    If you accept this analysis, then your sentence is the same as:

    " I did exactly that which you said."


    a. "That" is the object of "did."
    b. "which you said" is an adjective clause that modifies "that."


    House and Harman, Descriptive English Grammar (1931, 1950), pages 357- 359.

    P.S. As Tarheel told us, some books simply explain that "what you said" is a noun clause introduced by the indefinite relative pronoun "what" (which is the object of the verb "said"). Pence and Emery, A Grammar of Every-Day English (1947 and 1963), page 162.
    Last edited by TheParser; 29-Apr-2017 at 15:21.

  5. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Is "what" a conjunction in the "I did exactly what you sad"

    Among more recent grammarians:

    Quirk et al (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, 1985.1066) have 'what' in a sentence such as your as a pronoun, the object of the nominal relative clause 'what you said'.

    For Greenbaum (The Oxford English Grammar,1996. 190), 'what' is a nominal relative pronoun in a nominal relative clause.

    Huddleston & Pullum (The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2002.1073) consider 'what you said' to be a fused relative clause, with 'what' , a pronoun, as the object of that clause.

    Aarts (Oxford Modern English Grammar, 2011.200) considers 'what' to be a free relative pronoun in a free relative clause.


    So, they may not agree on the exact terminology, but they all agree that 'what' is a pronoun in your sentence.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 29-Apr-2017 at 19:57. Reason: Fixed typos

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    #6

    Re: Is "what" a conjunction in the "I did exactly what you sad"

    Interestingly, if what were replaced with as, an adverbial analysis of that sentence element would, I believe, make sense:

    I did exactly as you said.

    However, I'm just speaking hypothetically. That's a different sentence. Replacing what with as changes the structure.

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    #7

    Re: Is "what" a conjunction in the "I did exactly what you sad"

    I did exactly what you said.

    It is a pronoun; it cannot be a conjunction since it doesn't behave like one.

    This is a 'fused relative construction' where the antecedent and the relativised element are combined, or "fused" together into the single word "what" instead of being expressed separately. The underlined expression is thus not a clause but a noun phrase, whose head is fused with the first element in the relative clause. "What" is thus head of the noun phrase and object of the verb "said" in the relative clause.

    At word level, "what" means "that which" (or "the thing which"), so the sentence has the same meaning as the non-fused "I did exactly that which you said".

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